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Topic: [ME] Teacher Use of the Internet
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ME] Teacher Use of the Internet
Posted: Aug 9, 1999 1:54 PM
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[Note: From Kirk Winters in the U.S. Dept. of Education ...]

"INTERNET USE BY TEACHERS: Conditions of Professional Use &
Teacher-Directed Student Use" is a report that answers
questions such as...

* How often do teachers & students use the Internet & 'how'
do they use it?

* How accessible is the Internet to teachers?

Below are excerpts from the report. The full report can be
found at:

"Internet Use by Teachers: Conditions of Professional Use &
Teacher-Directed Student Use." By Henry Jay Becker.
Teaching, Learning, & Computing: 1998 National Survey, Report #1.
Center for Research on Information Technology & Organizations.
The University of California, Irvine,
The University of Minnesota
February 1999


This paper ... includes information about ...

* How frequently teachers & students use the Internet & in what
* To what extent teachers value having the Internet in their own
* How much access teachers have to the Internet
* Variations in Internet use & perceived value by the teacher's
level of Internet access
* Variations in Internet use & value by teaching responsibility
* Internet use & value by professional experience & technology
* Internet use & value by whether teachers participated in staff
* Internet use & value related to informal teacher-to-teacher
* Internet use & value by the teacher's pedagogical approach
* Combined effects on Internet use of all predicting factors

Study Sample

The information presented here derives from the national
probability sample of teachers of 4th through 12th grade classes in
U.S. public & private schools conducted in the Spring of 1998.
Approximately 2,250 teachers in the probability sample responded to
the survey (69.4% of the teachers identified & sampled)....
Statistics presented are weighted to constitute a nationally
representative sample of teachers.

Part I. Teachers' Access to the Internet

Over the past five years, schools have been rapidly acquiring
access to Internet telecommunications. This has been shown through
information provided by the National Center for Education
Statistics, as well as our own 1998 data on school-level Internet
connectivity. Over 90% of schools now have some sort of access to
the Internet, someplace in their building.

Until very recently, though, the type of Internet access that
schools had was limited to individual telephone modems connected to
single computers, sometimes in a teacher's classroom, but more
often in an office or computer lab. It is quite remarkable, then,
that more than one-third of U.S. teachers (39%, among 4th - 12th
grade teachers) now have some kind of Internet access in their own

Moreover, nearly as many teachers have high-speed direct Internet
connection routed through a local area network to their classroom
as have the older, & slower, "dial-up" modem connection.

In addition to the 39% of teachers who have Internet access in
their classrooms, another 25-30% teach at schools where at least
some instructional rooms in their building have LAN-based internet
connectivity. Moreover, a majority of teachers (59%) have Internet
access at home & only one-quarter (27%) have no access either at
home or in their classroom.

These statistics suggest that, as with other knowledge-oriented
professionals, the Internet has begun to be established as an
information & communications resource in the working & home
environments of most teachers. The next question is whether & to
what extent teachers have begun using this resource in their
professional lives.

Part II. Frequency of Different Internet Uses

A. Teachers' Uses

1. Use in Lesson Preparation

Most teachers report making some use of the Internet in their
professional activities. Our survey asked about three
professional uses in particular: finding information & other
resources on the Internet; e-mailing with teachers at other
schools; & posting information, suggestions, opinions, or
student work on the World Wide Web.

A majority of teachers (68%) use the Internet in their effort
to find information resources for use in their lessons, & more
than one-quarter of all teachers report doing this on a weekly
basis or more often (28%).

Teachers who use the Internet in this way typically have
either home or classroom access. Both home & classroom access
are about equally related to use, & teachers who have the
combination of both home & classroom access report the most
frequent use, with 46% of such teachers reporting weekly or
more frequent use. Of course, it is also likely that teachers
who want to use the Internet may go to some effort to acquire
either home or classroom access, but it also may be that the
presence of the technology increases utilization. Despite
these findings, it is also true that even among teachers with
both home & classroom Internet access, more teachers report
only "occasional" use of the Internet for lesson preparation
than report use on at least a weekly basis.

2. Teacher Professional Communications

The survey asked about two additional areas of professional
use of the Internet by teachers -- e-mail with teachers from
other schools & publishing on the World Wide Web. Far fewer
teachers engage in these types of communications than use
Internet as an information-gathering tool to obtain resources
for lesson preparation. Only 16% of teachers communicated by
e-mail with teachers from other schools as often as five times
during the school year.

However, classroom access to the Internet may make a
difference in whether they use e-mail for professional
purposes: Teachers with Internet access both at home & in
their classroom were more than three times as likely to e-mail
teachers at other schools than teachers who had only home
Internet access (33% vs. 9%).

Also, relatively few teachers have begun posting information,
suggestions, opinions, or student work on the World Wide Web.
Only 18% of teachers did this at all last year.

While this is a relatively small percentage of teachers,
publishing information on the Web is a substantially new
activity, not within the experience of teachers as much as
electronic mail or web browsing might be. To have even that
many teachers involved in some way suggests that more growth
in this area should be expected, as teachers' experience with
using the Internet develops their interest & confidence in
being information producers as well as consumers.

B. Teacher-Directed Student Use

1. Student Information-Gathering (Student Research)

Just as information-gathering for lesson preparation is the
most common use of the Internet by teachers, teachers have
students use the Internet for "research," or information-gathering,
more than for any other purpose. In fact, in the
past two years, Web searching has become the third most common
use of computers by students at school, after word processing
& use of CD-ROMs. Web searching even slightly surpasses
skills practice by computer drills & learning games in terms
of how frequently teachers have students use computers in that

Although only a minority of teachers had students use Web
browsers during the last school year, the effects of having
classroom-located Internet connectivity seems to have been
large, at least in terms of baseline levels of use. Among
teachers with modems in their classroom, nearly half had
students use Web browsers on at least 3 occasions. What might
be called "regular" use -- using the World Wide Web to do
research on at least 10 occasions -- was a practice of nearly
one-quarter of all teachers with a modem in their classroom &
30% of those with direct high-speed connections.

Of course, with a limited number of computer stations in the
classroom, the amount of experience that any one student may
have had with Web-based research could be quite limited.

2. Student Projects & Publishing

Beyond the traditional activity of using information sources
to write reports, some teachers have had students use the
Internet to contact other individuals, to collaborate with
classes in other schools in joint projects, & to become
experts on a topic & publish their findings on the World Wide
Web. As of 1997-98, however, very few teachers have had their
students involved in those Internet-based activities.
Overall, 7% of teachers had students e-mail at least 3 times
during the school year, & even fewer involved students in
cross-classroom collaborative projects or in Web publishing.

Among teachers whose primary teaching responsibility concerned
the subject of computers (as opposed to other subject-matter
areas), use of the Internet for these purposes was somewhat
more common. Between 12 & 17% of computer-subject teachers
had students use the Internet for each of those three purposes
-- e-mail, cross-classroom collaborations, & Web publishing.
In some cases, it may be that student project work in a
computer class is linked to instruction occurring in their
subject-matter classes. But this is probably not true most of
the time.

Part III. The Internet's Perceived Value for Teachers

Even though a majority of teachers have still not used the Internet
in their teaching, & even fewer have used it in a major way, there
may be many reasons for this -- the recent development of Internet
tools & resources, the rapidity with which technologies are
changing, the limited opportunity that teachers have had to see how
the Internet can be used in their practice, & the rarity of fast &
convenient Internet access. Some teachers who have not used the
Internet may be looking forward to a day when they might. How do
teachers see the Internet's potential value for them in the near
future? Do most teachers see the Internet as a valuable or an
essential resource in their teaching, as something of limited
value, or perhaps something that is not even needed?

We asked teachers about the value of the Internet in two respects:
the value of a teacher's computer station with electronic mail
access; & the value of having World Wide Web access in their
classroom. In each case, almost one-half of all teachers saw these
resources as "essential" for their teaching (49% & 47%
respectively) & nearly 90% reported that they would consider these
resources either valuable or essential. Even among teachers who
did not have access to the Internet either at home or in their own
classroom, one-third regarded the Internet as an essential teaching


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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